Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) involves fatigue that is sufficiently intense and persistent to reduce normal daily activities by at least 50% for a minimum of six months. Women account for 70% of cases of CFS, with the typical patient being a Caucasian woman in her mid-20s to late 40s. The prevalence is 4 to 10 formally diagnosed cases per 100,000 U.S. adults (18 years or older). Women are affected almost twice as often as men.
Although not conclusive, CFS may be precipitated by infectious agents (for example, Borrelia burgdorferi), herpes viruses, Candida albicans, and parasitic agents. This may very well be a multifactorial pathologic entity with lifestyle and constitutional/psychological makeup contributing factors.
Causes / Risk Factors
- A stressed immune system caused by recent acute illness, chronic health problems, emotional factors (anxiety, depression)
- Digestive problems
- Nutritional and environmental factors such as heavy metals, nutritional deficiencies and/or infections
- Possibly environmental pollutants and contaminants
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Sudden onset of severe fatigue, developing over a few hours to a few days and often after an acute viral illness
- Low-grade fever and chills
- A sore throat
- Myalgias and arthralgias
- Sleep disturbances
- Decreased ability to concentrate or remember
- General muscle weakness
Diet and Lifestyle considerations for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Short-term counseling can assist the patient in restoring self-esteem, problem-solving, and coping with life stresses.
- Acupuncture is effective in reducing the symptoms of fatigue.
- Regular exercise is crucial to improving energy, at a level that is tolerated.
- Yoga, Tai Chi or other relaxing activities may also be useful.
- Trial the Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet under a certified biomedical practitioner
- Patients should avoid coffee, cola, and other caffeinated drinks.
- Diet should be low in sugar and carbohydrates, as hypoglycemia is a trigger for fatigue.
- Each meal should have protein to provide adequate amino acids for healthy neurotransmitter production and blood sugar control.
- Emphasise foods high in magnesium, zinc, vitamin C and antioxidants, such as green vegetables and nuts.
- Patients should eat small, regular meals.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
- Avoid known food allergens, an elimination diet may be beneficial for some people.
- Foods should be well cooked and warm to facilitate easy digestion, avoid raw foods and cold drinks.
Integrative Treatments Overview For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
In order to obtain optimal results, the patient might consider a holistic approach that integrates several treatments to address biochemical, physiological, energetic, emotional and/or spiritual imbalances. These treatments can include Allopathic Medicine, Complementary Medicine, Biomedicine, Nutritional & Environmental Medicine, Functional Medicine, Orthomolecular Medicine, Energy Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Naturopathy, Ayurvedic, muscular-skeletal support, Psychology and more. It’s important that treatments are overseen by experienced and certified practitioners who are able to work in teams (see below for where to find one).
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treatment Options
Nutritional & Environmental Medicine Overview
Nutritional & Environmental practitioners focus on cellular health by optimizing nutrient uptake while minimizing toxic exposure. Biomedicine, Functional Medicine and Orthomolecular Medicine are all subsets. The overall goal is to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress which are key drivers in chronic modern disease (e.g. asthma is inflammation of the lungs, arthritis is inflammation of the joints, eczema is inflammation of the skin, IBS involves inflammation of the gut and ADHD and Autism include inflammation of the brain). A combined approach of diet, lifestyle and natural therapies supports the body’s innate ability to heal and prevent disease by maintaining homeostasis (balance).
It is recommended that a patient consult a certified practitioner to assess their symptoms and case history and explore their individual need to:
- Screen for food sensitivities and allergies
- Implement dietary intervention geared to the individual (e.g. GAPS, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, FodMAPS, Evolutionary, low oxalate/salicylate, Ketogenic)
- Supplement with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and probiotics
- Improve gastrointestinal health to support the vagus nerve and brain and immune function
- Support neurotransmitter function
- Supply fat-soluble nutrients for brain structure and function
- Reduce toxicity and heavy metal accumulation
- Minimise infections (e.g. bacteria, yeast, virus, parasites) to reduce immune response and nutritional deficiencies that can impact on mental and physical health
- Regulate blood glucose and establish healthy eating habits
- Use energy healing (acupuncture, homeopathy, kinesiology, Emotional Freedom Technique)
Where can I find a certified practitioner?Finding a well-trained Integrative and/or Functional practitioner requires research but is a vital step in treating complex and chronic illness.
Below are links to lists of practitioners worldwide. We recommend you research the scope, expertise and experience of any practitioners you are considering.
U.S. & GlobalInstitute of Functional Medicine
Integrative Medicine for Mental Health
Medical Academy of Paediatric Special Needs (MAPS)
Australia & New ZealandMindd Foundation
The Australian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine (ACNEM)
UKThe British Society for Ecological Medicine
Disclaimer: Mindd Foundation does not endorse any specific individuals listed and makes no representations, warranties, nor guarantees and assumes no responsibility for any services provided. Mindd Foundation expressly disclaims all liability for damages of any kind as a result of using any products or services provided by those listed.